My Knight Cancer Story: Randy Boles

Randy Boles

The three years before I first came to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute were among the most difficult of my life.

I'd been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007 and began treatment at another institution, to little effect. But despite the ongoing health struggles, I enjoyed loving, positive support from family and friends. My wife Paula joined me at all of my countless appointments, and my daughters Amy, Angi, Haley and their families have always been there with love and supportive input.

Surgery was not successful, radiation was a shot in the dark, and the drugs I took weren't keeping my prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels at bay. I became wary when my doctor suggested hormonal treatments. Unsure about the drug's side effects, I sought other opinions.

Intrigued by OHSU Knight Cancer Institute advertisements, as well as Nike Co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny's donations to the institute, I scheduled an appointment with Christopher Amling, M.D., F.A.C.S., who is also the John Barry Endowed Chair of Urology at OHSU. Over the next four years, I also received treatment from Tomasz Beer, M.D., F.A.C.P., deputy director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, and Joshi Alumkal, M.D., who co-leads the institute's Prostate Cancer Research Program with Dr. Beer.

I was immediately struck by Dr. Beer's optimism and upbeat attitude. He gave me hope by discussing his prostate cancer research and mentioning the research that other Knight Cancer doctors were doing to treat this disease. He later introduced me to other doctors, including Dr. Alumkal, and I was immediately excited by the teamwork concept among Knight Cancer doctors and researchers. When I expressed my concerns about hormonal treatments, Drs. Beer and Alumkal reassured me. I eventually began a hormone protocol and later enrolled in a Phase III clinical trial that studies a hormonal therapy called ARN-509.

With such an enthusiastic, optimistic team at Knight Cancer, I've never felt like I'm fighting cancer alone. I have a lot of people in my corner helping me through this battle, and that encouragement gives me hope. That includes Cathy Weeks, an OHSU counselor who talked me through the ups and downs, and Kimberly Carson, whose OHSU-sponsored Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) yoga program helped my mental and physical well-being.

When I first arrived at Knight Cancer, I was told that this diagnosis didn't have to be "doom and gloom."  I was told, by every doctor I talked to, that this was a tenable situation. Five years later, I realize they were right all along.

I often wonder if I actually chose the Knight Cancer Institute. The sincere concern of the staff at every level makes me feel that the Knight Cancer Institute chose me.